Saturday 24 February 2018

Ex-Custom House Capital CEO fights freezing orders

Tim Healy

THE former chief executive of a failed investment firm wants the High Court to overturn orders freezing bank accounts containing €180,000.

Custom House Capital's former CEO Harry Cassidy has brought the action arising out of orders freezing two accounts with Bank Of Ireland, obtained by the gardai in July 2012.

The two accounts are held by a private pension trust, which has two independent trustees and was established in 2000 to administer Mr Cassidy's pension. Mr Cassidy is the sole beneficiary of the amounts held in the account.

However, he claims he is being denied full disclosure by gardai of the information he requires to challenge the making of the freezing orders which he claims amounts to a breach of his rights.

Custom House Capital was wound up in 2011 after a High Court-appointed investigation by two Central Bank inspectors into the firm found the "systemic and deliberate misuse" of €66m of client money through false accounting to hide the transfer of the money to cover shortfalls in European property investments.

The inquiry found "improper transactions" concerning €56m in client funds and a further €10.4m was owing to clients on an investment bond.

Yesterday at the High Court, Hugh Hartnett SC, for Mr Cassidy, of Ballintyre Walk, Ballinteer, Dublin, said gardai had obtained 28-day freezing orders against bank accounts linked to Mr Cassidy. The orders have been renewed on several occasions since July.

Mr Hartnett said Mr Cassidy did not receive any notification of the initial freezing orders or the first three renewals and Mr Cassidy's lawyers have been unable to determine why the accounts have been frozen.

He said Mr Cassidy could not challenge the freezing orders unless he was provided with all the relevant information. An application was made before Judge Cormac Dunne for full disclosure of all the sworn information.

Judge Dunne refused to order the unredacted disclosure of the sworn information.

In his action against the Garda Commissioner, Judge Dunne, Ireland and the Attorney General, Mr Cassidy is seeking orders from the court quashing all the freezing orders made in respect of the two bank accounts.

Leave to bring the action was granted, on an ex-parte (one-side only) basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart. He made the matter returnable to a date in March.

Irish Independent

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